Today is International Women’s Day (IWD), a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, whilst also calling for the acceleration of gender equality. My daughter will be three in April and the current trajectory suggests she will not see equal pay in her lifetime. This is not good enough, but the theme of this year’s IWD is welcome: #BalanceforBetter, placing emphasis on the need for gender balance for economies and communities to thrive.
I’m on the Work and Pensions select committee and this week we visited Charles Dickens Primary School in Borough to talk to parents, children and teachers about the impact of welfare cuts imposed by the Coalition Government on local families. Many mums attended and told the committee about Universal Credit problems and that they would like to work but can’t due to problems with childcare, leaving them locked out of employment.
Many schools are beginning to introduce redboxes to help tackle period poverty. Too many girls miss school due to period poverty. My local office, on Jamaica Road, has a redbox and I know the local foodbanks frequently request tampons, sanitary and toiletry items to help support disadvantaged women and girls.
The murder of Charlotte Huggins on New Year’s Day in Southwark by her ex partner brutally highlighted the need to do more to end violence against women. I will be seeking to improve legislation to support women fleeing violent partners when the Government’s domestic violence proposals reach the Commons.
When in power, Labour achieved a number of reforms to reduce the barriers that women face. The minimum wage, human rights, Sure Start centres, the Equality Act, extensions to flexible working and more. I am proud of what Labour achieved when in office but have been shocked at how easily that legacy has been undermined since 2010 #IWD2019